Effective
School
Improvement

A whole school approach to primary and high school improvement.

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Our Approach

Our unique approach to school improvement is the result of programmatic research carried out over 15 years and involves the use of valid and reliable surveys. Our simple and cost effective programme is geared toward hearing the student and teacher voice as a means of implementing effective school improvement processes.

Harnessing the power of teachers and leadership teams to improve schools.
For more information contact the ESI team
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Creating Cultural Change in Schools

The Effective School Improvement whole-school approach to school improvement is suitable for High Schools and Primary Schools

School improvement frameworks [1] highlight the importance of school leaders guiding their staff towards embracing a collaborative approach to evaluation, problem solving and learning. The key elements of an improving school – improvement culture, improvement processes and improvement outcomes – are interrelated and constantly influence each other; highlighting the cyclical nature of school improvement which has no real starting or endpoint. Within these concepts, the existence of an improvement culture is strongly influenced by the school’s willingness to become (or stay) a learning culture.

Given that research-based and data-driven decision making have been shown to be important factors that influence school improvement efforts, we have developed a group of surveys that can be used to assist schools to assess, monitor and develop a culture conducive to effective school improvement. According to Deal and Peterson [2], school reforms are likely to fail if they are not meaningfully linked to a school’s unique culture. The surveys that have been developed each tap into different aspects of a school’s unique culture and provide a means to monitor changes.

The surveys monitor improvement efforts from a range of perspectives:

  • Students’ perspectives – at the classroom level and also at the whole-school level
  • Teachers’ perspectives – about the school organisational climate and about the principal’s leadership.

The data from these surveys provide:

  • Annual reporting and comparative data over time;
  • Opportunities for data-driven decision making; and
  • Monitoring the success of school improvement efforts.

They can be used as part of Creemer and Reegitz’s [3] framework for effective school improvement

Participation in the Effective School Improvement programme involves access to online surveys and, in the case of the Classroom Climate Questionnaire (CCQ) the almost immediate generation of feedback directly to teachers. It also includes whole-school feedback to principals and leadership teams. There is an annual cost involved. Please contact us for more information


[1] ACER (2012). Teaching and learning school improvement framework. Retrieved 10 May, 2013, from http: www.acer.edu.au.Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (Eds.). (2000). The international handbook of school effectiveness research. New York: Falmer Press.
[2] Deal, T. E., & Peterson, K. D. (1999). Shaping school culture: The heart of leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.
[3] Creemers, B. P. M., & Reezigt, G. (2005). Linking school effectiveness and school improvement: The background and outline of the project. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16(4), 359-371.

Professional Learning Communities

The Effective School Improvement whole-school approach to school improvement is suitable for High Schools and Primary Schools

While professional learning communities (PLCs) can take many forms, fundamentally, they involve teachers working with their colleagues, typically within the school. There is strong research evidence to suggest that this collective capacity building approach has a significant impact on school effectiveness [1]. The notion of a professional learning community highlights the importance of a collaborative culture that is characterised by professional discourse and shared pedagogies. Through professional learning communities, openings are made for formal and informal opportunities for collaborative problem-solving as teachers work together.

Our programme not only promotes PLCs, but translates the notion into practical Professional Learning Groups (PLGs). The group leaders are usually selected by the Principal and participate in PD to prepare them to facilitate their group, which typically stays together for the whole year.

This is a half-day PD that involves working with teacher-leaders who, in turn, will work with groups of teachers to use feedback from the surveys. Principals identify teacher-leaders and groups of 8-10 teachers with whom the leaders will work to reflect on the data and make some small lines of action. In addressing dimensions of the feedback, teachers will be encouraged to access previous PD or professional readings to inform their plans and create teams of two or three who will accompany each other in the execution of these plans over a given period of time.

The teacher-leaders participate in a half day PD to commence this process wherein they:

  • Review literature on professional learning communities;
  • Learn strategies to empower teachers through accompaniment;
  • Learn how administer the survey instruments; and
  • Learn how to facilitate the feedback process using induction and looking for trends.

Accompaniment is a means through which teachers work collegially to improve their teaching practice. It promotes an inquiry mind-set through engagement with each other and with research. It is a means for sharing personal practice in order to develop best practices of teaching. It promotes active interest in one-another’s successes and struggles and therefore provides mutual support. It can include shoulder-to-shoulder learning. Ultimately, it fosters the informed participation of more and more people in a united effort to improve the school.

An overview of this PD and other PD assoicated with the Effective School Programme is available here.


[1] Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go: The change imperative for whole system reform. New York: Corwin.

Contact Us

If you would like your school to be involved, please contact us for information about how to participate in the program.

Kate Alai.
Senior Research Officer
P: +61 (0) 411 281 000

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